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Very low input volume! Bizzare, yet troublesome problem.

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Xpred, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. Xpred

    Xpred Guest

    EDIT: Whoops! Sorry, I think I may have posted this in the wrong forum. Mods/admins, I think it should be moved to "Home, Project Studio." Thanks!

    Alright. I have a huge problem. I posted this on several forums, but I just recently found recording.org. Hopefully, I can post here and get some more input on my troubles:


    1st PC:

    P4 2.2 GHz w/ Intel 845E chipset, Gigabyte 81EXP mobo, Windows XP Pro w/ SP2, GF4 Ti4600, 1GB PC2100 DDR RAM, 80GB + 200GB HD, Onboard sound card: Creative SoundBlaster PCI128, Both an onboard FireWire card and another PCI firewire card (Both are VIA OHCI Compliant chipsets)

    2nd PC:

    AXP 2100+ w/ VIA KT400 chipset, Gigabyte GA-7VAXP mobo, Windows XP Home w/ SP2, GF4 Ti4200, 512MB PC2700 DDR RAM, 60GB + 200GB HD, Onboard sound card: Realtek AC'97, Both an onboard FireWire card and another PCI firewire card (Both are VIA OHCI Compliant chipsets)


    1st Preamp: M-Audio FireWire Solo w/ latest drivers (don't have anymore)
    2nd Preamp: PreSonus Firebox w/ latest drivers (current)
    15' LiveWire Balanced XLR-to-XLR cable
    Marshall MXL 990 Condensor Mic (vocal)
    Marshall MXL 991 Condensor Mic (instrumental)

    I have been using: GoldWave, Sound Forge, Adobe Audition


    Very low input volume. This is indicated by the small amplitude readings (almost as tiny as a dot) when using a sound program. Input recording levels indicate at about 75% gain and a +12db boost in my PreSonus Firebox, levels were about -20db to -10db. This seems ALRIGHT for a low average to decent recording level, but seems unreasonable LOW for that MUCH gain and already a +12db boost.


    -Phantom power is on. Normally the preamp is being bus-powered via 6-pin to 6-pin. If I plug in the adapter, it does nothing. The problem still remains.

    -Updated all patches including sound, graphics, chipset, processor (etc). Double checked common OS settings like making sure input is the preamp and output is my onboard sound card.

    -Tried the Windows XP SP2 patch that addresses FireWire speed issues (and other problems) with SP2 located at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/885222. Still doesn't do anything.

    -The preamp (whether faulty) has been ruled out, originally I tried using the M-Audio FireWire Solo and the low volume was also apparant. I then upgraded to PreSonus Firebox and this is where I am as of now. Still the same problem.

    -I believe the XLR cable and mics are highly ruled out (although not fully 100% sure) because I tested the same products at two other places: @ GuitarCenter and my friends systems with the same equipment and the result was different at their place than mine. I used the same mics and cable.

    -Called both tech support to determine the problem. As of current, I am still speaking with PreSonus TP to further test and rule out anything. Have been talking constantly for a week trying to get this damn thing solved.

    -Bought a cheap Syba PCI FireWire card w/ again a VIA chipset to replace my onboard one. This allowed my IRQ to change (originally both my onboard FW card and graphics card were sharing the same IRQ-I thought this was problematic) to an independent number unshared by anything. Still the same problem.


    -Tried everything on BOTH of my computers. They both seem to be doing the same. They are however, nearly identical. Both custom built with same BRAND of motherboard, graphics card, hard drives, just different models. Both have onboard audio and onboard firewire (different brands/models), and now both have non-onboard firewire.

    -VIA vs TI vs other chipset FireWire card. I have been using only VIA chipsets. Maybe preamps in general not good with VIA? Because I have been using TWO preamps that did this. I haven't tried any USB preamps on either of my two computers

    -Perhaps the MXL 990/991 mics just rather suck in general causing very low input? However, I have tested this out on two OTHER computers: 1). Guitar Center mac laptop running OS X and another laptop running XP SP2. It worked fine there. The levels were adequate.

    -At 100% gain and even with a +12db boost, how loud I yell there seemed to be no clipping whatsoever. This is extremely bizzare and is a sign of a serious problem.
  2. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    I think you're saying everything run through the cable is 12 db down?

    I'd check the interconnecting cable(s) again. The equipment you run the cable to/through should have a "pinout" listing somewhere? Try someone else's "working" cable or check the "pinout" of yours with the cable pins themselves using a Volt/Ohmeter - just checking for which pin is which, using ohms or maybe a continuity setting. Some cables said to be "balanced", either are not at all OR are "balanced" to some "other" balanced spec(Said to not be the same in every country. Hard to say the origin of much of the stuff we buy today)? I know if I run an improperly wired(Or unbalanced- period) cable from my keyboard/synth to my LynxOne, levels come out(Strangely?) 12 db down......

    Of course one ALWAYS checks the one thing it can't possibly be, anyway. It's ALWAYS that thing! Some "Murphy" rule/correllary or other......

  3. Xpred

    Xpred Guest

    Well, remember that I did bring the same cable and mics to both GC and my friends house and tested it. However, when I did... the input level were fine... this got me to thinking maybe it wasn't the cable. It's just strange that it would be because I bought it so brand new and tested it everywhere else.
  4. liquisound

    liquisound Guest

    Just fishing here but does the condenser mic have a pad switch on it?

    seems silly, I know, but a local vo/studio intern (friend of the family) called me to come over and check out their system - she thought she had destroyed something and feared her bosses reaction....the mic pad was ON and was the sole result of the problem. it is totaly easy to overload a mic capsule by yelling into it while a pad engaged on the mic (if it has one) can minimize that. when you say yelling into the mic producd no clipping the mic pad is the first thing I think of.
  5. Xpred

    Xpred Guest

    Hmm... I don't know what a pad switch is, but it has no switches on it at all. However, you must remember that the mic works and there shouldn't be anything wrong with it. I posted that I tested it at several locations with the same mic & cable, and it worked fine there.
  6. liquisound

    liquisound Guest

    a pad switch is a switch that when engaged attenuates the signal by a certain amount of dB; i.e. a -10dB pad will reduce the signal by 10dB. If this pad is on the mic it will reduce the signal before it hits the mic's electronics. If the pad is on your pre it will reduce the signal there. very useful on mics for big loudmouths. see if the presonus has a pad button on it.

    the other things I would check: are any cables loose while connected? Is there an input volume on your computer (software environment)?
  7. Xpred

    Xpred Guest

    The PreSonus doesn't have this kind of switch. Hell, I've added the "+12db boost" already in the control panel of the PreSonus Mixer; the volume still is ultra low by standards. I checked the cables and nothing seems loose.

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